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'There Wasn't Much Due Process' for Starr

Saturday, September 12, 1998; Page A14

Following are excerpts from the speech of House Judiciary Committee Chairman Henry J. Hyde during debate yesterday on the report from the independent counsel on possible grounds for impeachment of President Clinton:

You know, fundamental fairness is a phrase that's been bandied around here. I didn't hear that much when one of the marvelous, articulate spokesmen for the administration declared war on Kenneth Starr. And that war is still going on – volley after volley on MSNBC, CNBC, on and on and on – not to mention other spokesmen for the administration, talented issuers of insults and vitriol.

There wasn't much due process or fairness there.

Now, we congratulated ourselves on saying no man is above the law, but this is not a criminal proceeding. There is no legal requirement for an answer to a complaint from the White House.

We on the Judiciary Committee are smart enough and of such good will that we're going to wait and we're going to hear what the president has to say. We're going to give it every possible consideration.

The only requirement for an early copy to the White House is a public relations one. Now, you've had the public relations field for as long as the independent counsel has been appointed. By the way, the spin is working well here in this room. You refer to him as the special prosecutor, not the independent counsel. He is not a prosecutor on the law you all passed, which did not provide for advance copies to objects of investigation, as you wrote it.

So we have that – we have a public relations requirement that I hope you don't think we're fundamentally unfair in not wanting to give special treatment to the White House.

Equality, not special treatment.

Now, I don't have to tell you that the theater of operations has shifted from the White House and the grand jury to this chamber. And we're governed by what we all vote for.

I can assure you the only bipartisan thing in this whole resolution, after listening to this debate, is the bipartisan demand for immediate release of this report. And I can tell you the vigor and rigor with which those demands have come from your side is in no way less than the vigor and the rigor of the demands on our side.

And you've put this to a vote. You know what's going to happen. And we are the servants of this body.

So there's no way we could change that.

Now, due process, fundamental fairness will be observed. I can assure you this whole proceeding will fail, it will fall on its face if it isn't perceived by the American people to be fair.

I keenly regret what I have heard this morning – a debate that has been really partisan. . . . [B]ipartisanship. . . . doesn't mean surrender. It means thoughtful, sincere, honorable consideration of differing views and trying to reach an accommodation.

I pledge myself, even though [Rep. John] Conyers [D-Mich., ranking minority member of the Judiciary Committee] has changed his mind – I pledge myself to work with him as closely as humanly possible so we do have that bipartisan result from our efforts. . . .

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© Copyright 1998 The Washington Post Company

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